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American Indian Literature & Critical Studies #0010: Bone Gameby Louis Owens
Synopses & Reviews
In Bone Game, Louis Owens's compelling new novel, dreams and waking life, past and present, ghosts and living people echo each other and lock in conflict. From the moment we read that a Spanish priest was murdered in 1812 and that the dismembered pieces of a young woman are beginning to wash ashore in 1993 - both in Santa Cruz - we know that something is profoundly wrong in the too-beautiful California town. Cole McCurtain is at Bone Game's uneasy, dreaming center. Now a mixed-blood professor of Indian Studies at Santa Cruz, Cole is haunted by dreams of the murdered priest, a rearing grizzly bear, a black-and-white painted Indian who offers bones in his extended hands. In his waking life Cole moves through scenes equally discordant and sinister. Surrounded by decadent students, an overly earnest teaching assistant, and a cross-dressing, wisecracking Indian colleague, he longs to be back in New Mexico, fly-fishing. Help comes from Indian country when his beloved daughter Abby appears at his doorstep. Even so, the dreams become increasingly urgent and the murders ever more frequent. Added support is mobilized. Choctaw oldtimers - Cole's father, Hoey, his great-uncle, Luther, and an old medicine woman, Onatima - travel west from Mississippi, becoming entangled in further stories along the way. They know they are needed; as Luther says, "This story's so big, Cole sees only a little bit of it".
Bone Game is a murder mystery on a grand scale. Cole McCurtain, a mixed-blood Indian professor of Indian Studies at Santa Cruz, California, is haunted by dreams dating back to events of Spanish California. Images of a Spanish priest murdered in 1812, a rearing grizzly bear, and a black-and-white painted Indian who offers bones in his extended hands come at a time when dismembered pieces of a young woman are washing ashore in 1993. The dreams become increasingly urgent as the murders become more frequent, and Coles family and friends gather to help-including Choctaw relatives who travel west from Mississippi because "this storys so big, Cole sees only a little bit of it."
About the Author
Louis Owens, who is of Choctaw-Cherokee-Irish descent, is Professor of English at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of several books, including Other Destinies: Understanding the American Indian Novel and the novels The Sharpest Sight and Bone Game, all published by the University of Oklahoma Press.
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